* Posts by Doctor Syntax

16427 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014

User stepped on mouse, complained pedal wasn’t making PC go faster

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Can I just leave this thought with you?

"I recently introduced a few groups of long-term Windows users to the concepts of Control-X, Control-C and Control-V."

The thing is, that's just one set of controls. Users from other applications, particularly terminal based ones, will have had entirely different sets hardwired to their fingers. Where are the capabilities for loading these as alternatives so as to assist these users?

It's a matter of what you're used to. Having a Linux box here I have to flip between using that command character set on GUIs and a completely different set if I flip up a terminal session and use vi. Users who spent their working lives on some other terminal based application will have a different set of "instinctive" responses. It's not that any of these are wrong, it's just that they're different, and very likely older, than what Windows uses.

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Re: Bad enough for techies

"Apparently, UI design is not a required course for the millennial code jockeys."

And UI redesign is.

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Re: Reminds me of a story

"Pong is very old. It goes back to about 1975, so more like 40 years."

Remember that the original post said pensioners in 2002.

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Re: Reminds me of a story

"secure and HIPAA compliant"

HIPAA doesn't worry about the errors creeping in from retyping?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

It isn't just age and it isn't just computers which puzzle neophytes.

Every year the botany course had a few weeks on palaeoecology. Strictly speaking I shouldn't have been helping on an undergrad course but it was so specialised that only SWMBO from the regular demonstrating team had the relevant background.

It must have been the first time the students had needed to use high resolution microscopy so they were shown how to set up the Kohler illumination to maximise resolution. But every time we were called over to a student's microscope to help identify a pollen grain we had to set it up properly before talking them through the identification and yet the students couldn't see how bad it was.

Of course that generation of students is now in the age group in the article.or thereabouts.

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Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

"Oh, really!"

Are you new here?

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Re: If somebody does not understand...

"Back at school in NZ we had little orange bound books of log tables"

That takes us back full circles (and to old jokes about snake breeding). Babbage's inspiration was the need to improve the calculation of tables because there were too many errors in those of his day.

"The labels of bags of donated bloods are still hand written... the label may have to be readable by candle light."

It depends on the hand. Mine might not be safe in any light. I'd have thought a printed label would have been better.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

"The computer age for normal people started around about 1990."

As a domestic, single user device, maybe. But many normal people were sitting at green screens (or orange ones if you wanted to be ergonomic) in offices well before then. Before that they'd maybe have been filling in sheets for data entry clerks to enter into punch cards and getting computer-printed pay slips.

"Those over 75, and there's a few of those left too, may have decided at the time that this was a young person's thing and they'd give it a miss."

I'm not quite 75 yet but by the time the first practical micro-driven devices came out, say late '70s. I was in my 40s. Well before the teenagers were playing with their Spectra of C64s I could see just what this could do for lab instrumentation when there wasn't a budget for PDPs or Novas and setting them to work.

The computer age began well before you think.

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Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

"There aren't that many left alive."

That reminds me, The Times last weekend carried an obit. of Tim Berners-Lee's mother who seems to have had in interesting computing career of her own back in the earlyish days. It's a pity el Reg didn't pick up on that.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Can I just leave this thought with you?

Many pensioners will have spent part of their working lives using various terminal-based applications during their working lives*. They would be able to run rings round mouse jockeys doing such work because not taking a hand off the keyboard to wiggle a mouse is a big productivity gain**. They had various key operations to control the terminal instead of the mouse.

They can't bring that experience to bear on working on a GUI because although there may be keyboard shortcuts the computer can't adapt to using the key control sets they're used to.

Who's being dumb here?

* For my part, I spent part of my working life writing some of those applications.

** It might gain them RSI but that's a different issue.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: “...to setup and operate a community cyber cafés.”

"setup" is not a verb.

Think it is? Conjugate it in the past tense, eh.

Can we agree that at least one of the numerous definitions of "set" is a verb? Good. Now conjugate it in the past tense.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"the look of joy on someones face when they discover something"

Back in the early days of the OU I was a tutor/counsellor for the Science Foundation course covering most points west of the Bann. One part of the chemistry section had a computer assisted learning element which involved me dragging a portable (so much for relativity) teletype and an acoustically coupled modem out to the tutorial centre.

One of my students was a nurse tutor (much younger then than I am now but the OU in thise days worked on the basis that the students were a good bit older than the tutors). She was so nervous that she brought her teenage son along for moral support. In the course of the morning it just dawned on her that this was really straightforward and nothing to worry about at all. Yup, that was what it was all about.

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"Very true, but there's even more to be said for teaching them to learn from other people's as well."

It's a lot cheaper.

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"Only believe half of what you think you have seen yourself"

It's working out which half that makes it hard.

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"PC LOAD LETTER" (it's out of letterA4-size paper)

That's when it gets really annoying.

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"More subtly, my dad was constantly asking me how to close programs on his Android phone"

It's called dumbing down. Not your dad; programming.

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Re: Old as the hills

"Most parents with toddlers these days also have lots of marks on the TV as their kids just think it's a big iPad."

Makes a change from Tippex.

OK, just going.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Old as the hills

"In the 1950s many UK households had very few books. What we had were public libraries with a stock that wasn't just the latest popular novels."

I know, I was there. And now that local library is shut part of the time and depends on volunteers to keep it running.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Hey Gran!

"Gas lighting was the new thing"

Errr. How old do you think the oldest people still alive are? Pushing towards the second century?

Gas lighting still having been a thing, however, is quite realistic. We had gas lighting in the house I grew up in until we moved just before I was 14.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Reminds me of a story

"Somebody you really wouldn't expect to be an expert on current tech."

But you said Linux. Which is only a Unix look-alike so it's quite conceivable that he's been using the underlying tech for well over 30 years. What does he think about systemd?

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Re: Reminds me of a story

"And when the GPO owned the telephone (singular) in your house."

And, if you were unlucky, you had a party line. (Younglings, Google is your friend.)

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Re: Reminds me of a story

"The concept takes seconds to learn and the co-ordination little longer. I don't buy this whole pensioners don't have the experience line. Its basic hand-eye co-ordination."

Agreed. It's simply assuming that the person knows what's the actual link between what the hand does and the eye sees.

As with all jargon it's a necessary short cut to say "click on icon". Even "click the mouse on the icon" is too long-winded. But if someone doesn't know it's necessary to explain that "when I say 'click on the icon' move the mouse like this so that this pointer on the screen moved over that thing there which is the icon and then press that button which makes a clicking sound". Not difficult to have to say once, easily understood thereafter but there does, in the article appear to a big cognitive gap. The gap is in the instructor and it relates to the need to explain that.

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Re: It was funny but she did learn stuff there.

"people born before the computer age."

There aren't that many left alive. The computer age is older than you think.

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Re: Reminds me of a story

"Really? Every time I go back to my folks I have to show one of them where the button for X is on the remote"

My problem is usually finding the right remote for X. There's the TV itself, the Mythbox and the Kodi (what a crap user interface that has - every single one of them) on the Pi.

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Re: Reminds me of a story

1 flashy powerpoint presentaion can miss your audience if you are unlucky


Fancy coughing up for a £2,000 'nanodegree' in flying car design?

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Re: Oh, Udacity

"Back in the day I did just 2 weeks wonderful COBOL"

2 weeks? That was a long course. 1 Week FORTRAN but missed day 1 due to a diary clash with field work.

Here we go again... UK Prime Minister urges nerds to come up with magic crypto backdoors

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Re: Scam Of The Century

There's potential in reversing this approach. HMG puts its money where its mouth is and offers a contract to build this system they believe could be built. The usual suspects will tender and one of them will get it. They will fail to deliver but that's true of many govt. contracts. Unlike the others this won't be wasted money. It'll be money well spent on shutting the idiots up while they wait for something to be delivered. Hopefully those on the relevant Parliamentary committees who twig what it's about will keep schtum.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"It is a shame that people chose to punish them for not achieving the impossible"

I think that's one of the reasons. The other is that people voted for them as a protest vote, something they reckoned was "safe" because they (LibDems) would never be a party of government. And then they did the unforgivable - they joined the government. Just being against things isn't a responsible political stand; sometimes you have to be for things and a lot of their voters had forgotten that.

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Re: Biometrics

"Isn't that a bit overreaching, and out of jurisdiction?"

ITYF gabor1 is from the US and doesn't understand concepts such as The Rest Of The World.

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@ StargateSg7

Bob, is that you?

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Re: What's the nature of a scorpion?

I've asked a lot of people around me (Ph.D education level...) about this specific issue, and they all just shrug and went "Well, it's not like I have something to hide. And besides, who would be interested in pictures of my pet/my holiday?". That's their standard answer to both blanket surveillance and criminals getting to their information.

Tell them to read the ToS of their bank and any other online services. Then they'll discover that not only do they have something to hide but that they're contractually obliged to hide it.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: No is the answer and it remains that way

"several half-way credible ways"

The other half seems to have gone missing.

Ex-staffer sues UK's DWP, claims superior blabbed confidential medical info

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"but seriously, El Reg?"

Look through the recent articles on GDPR and have a good think about how this might relate to them. Hint: medical info tied to person's name is PII - Personally Indentifiable Information.

GitHub shrugs off drone maker DJI's crypto key DMCA takedown effort

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Rockets

ITAR (arms regulations) restrictions come with heavy penalties. ... the "COO" was trying to outsource everything he could

I reckon company policies, manuals etc. should always accompany statements of "this is what we do and how we do it" with "this is why we do it and why we do it this way" so that it can be pointed out to even the meanest intelligence in senior management when it's done that way because of statutory or regulatory reasons.

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Re: But what if...

" What if someone shares something on Github which wasn't theirs to share in the first place?"

Github would take it down PDQ to avoid charges of being an accessory and mitigate any civil claims.

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Re: one experience ...

"People actually bought them with no hard drives in them?"

Who said anything about no hard drives?

Julian Assange to UK court: Put an end to my unwarranted Ecuadorean couch-surf

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Re: A solution

"In all honesty do you think that plane would get anywhere near Ecuador?"

His problem. He didn't think that far ahead when jumping bail, would he now? The likelihood is that if he accepted the deal and he'd still not be able to keep his mouth shut.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

A solution

A bit of negotiation.

Assagne surrenders to the warrant.

Taken straight to the magistrates' court for an immediate hearing.

Pleads guilty.

Prosecution points out that bail jumping is a serious matter so imprisonment is fully justified but as the original warrant has been dropped, he's spent the time on bail under what's effectively self-imposed house arrest, has voluntarily surrendered and has agreed to leave the country immediately if set free the Crown believes the imprisonment could be suspended. Say six months for two years you worship?

Defence confirms intent to leave but counters saying a conditional discharge would be appropriate.

Court imposes 5 months suspended two years.

In and out of court in five minutes

Fast car to Heathrow timed to arrive just in time to catch a flight to Ecuador leaving the US no time to get extradition papers prepared and Swedes no time to reissue the EWA.

That's if he keeps his mouth shut except to confirm his name and plead guilty. If he tries to make a speech in court he gets 14 days and there'll be an extradition warrant and an EWA waiting when he gets out. Likewise if he tries to hold a press conference after leaving court the car gets held up in traffic and he misses his plane and finds there's no available seat for several days.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Expensive

"Why is this man so special?"

I'm sure if you were to ask him he'd tell you at length.

"(I'm not commenting on Assange, his personality ... just the fact that the UK government seem to be spending a disproportionate amount of money on this)"

His personality is the key; he's a self-publicist. Letting up on him would be very public and would send the message that bail jumping isn't actually something you can get banged up for. He really has brought this on himself.

Maybe his option would be to come out, get arrested and get a shrink to persuade the court he's unfit to plead. His past behaviour might be called in evidence to support it but I don't suppose it would sit well with his ego.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Oh do fuck off.

"As much as I dislike arseange I disagree with him getting arrested and shipped off to land of the free."

At the time he skipped bail the US didn't appear to be thinking of extraditing him and if they'd put in a request they'd have been queued up behind Sweden. The US might well have thought that ignoring him would have hurt his ego so much as to have been the more effective punishment. Now, possibly with Assagne's help, the current POTUS lacks that degree of subtlety.

AFAICS Assagne's situation is entirely of his own making. Or, to put it another way, he's made his bed sofa and now he must lie sit on it.

FYI: Processor bugs are everywhere – just ask Intel and AMD

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

"Books and scientific publications come with an ERRATA sheet and I think it is good, because honest."

Agreed. But the problem is the ready acceptance that they should be needed, particularly in this context. Would it not be better if development effort were concentrated on fixing the errata so as to eliminate them rather than adding more features which in turn add more errors?

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Stop making them faster

"It's parallel and future branch prediction where it is all at."

Which are aimed at making them faster in terms of computing power. And look where we've just discovered it's got us.

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"Any processor comes with an errata sheet"

And is that a good thing?

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Stop making them faster

Start making them better.

Sometimes it's just better to spend time improving quality rather than adding features and speed.

GOLD! Always believe in your role. You've got the power to know you're indestructible...

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"How do those low altitude events affect space particles?"

I suppose that's what they want to find out.

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Re: There's gold in them thar budgets

"I'm imagining that some data resolves more sharply seen edge-on but other data is from tracking changes across wide areas."

Disk view, you're looking straight down and get a plan view of all the layers at once.

Limb, you see a cross section.

At least, that's how I'd expect it to be working

Ever wondered why tech products fail so frequently? No, me neither

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Emitting a loud "crack!...

"the grinding lab probably forgot to stress relieve the lens"

Glass can have lots of internal stresses. For my degree project I devised an experiment which required a number of stands made out of glass rod with 6 bends in each (think of those Bauhaus tubular frames chairs and you get the idea). Over a few weeks each of the initial bunch made out of soda glass developed cracks at at least one joint. They had to be remade in Pyrex.

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: original devs

"I know no-one reads them anymore"

That's because nobody writes them any more.

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Re: False economy

"It started with the Industrial Revolution, the pretext for which was, in essence, better living through mass production, both in terms of better employment opportunities and more diverse, cheaper yet better goods. In reality, the motive was warfare"

A large part of the industrial revolution was in the textile industry. I suppose they could have been mass producing cushions to smother the enemy.

Newsflash: Car cyber-security still sucks

Doctor Syntax Silver badge

Re: Technology Moving Faster Than Security ???

Technology moving faster than common sense. All sorts of wireless interfaces added to something that really needs a minimally small attack area just so some numpty with a new car and a smartphone can sit in the pub and say "hi, guys, just look at this".

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